Screenshot of the page of the 'Open Society Armenia' on Facebook,

06 April 2019, 20:51

Armenian NGOs criticized the fight against fake news announced by Nikol Pashinyan

After Nikol Pashinyan's instruction to counter fake news, the National Security Service (NSS) of Armenia reported on the detention of the author of a group on the Facebook.

This instruction is aimed against the freedom of self-expression, natural for any democratic society, and is an attempt to manipulate the public opinion, the Armenian NGOs interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot" believe. Mr Pashinyan has reacted by the war on fake news to the drop in his rating and criticism for unfulfilled promises, said Armen Badalyan, a political consultant.

The NSS has detained the author of the group "Be braver, Armenia – open society!" on the Facebook. According to Arthur Vanetsyan, NSS Director, the author is suspected of inciting ethnic hatred and racism.

Mr Vanetsyan has explained that the author's detention was launched within the campaign to counter fake news. This fight will not grow into a hunt for the dissidents, Arthur Vanetsyan has assured on the national TV Channel One.

Before that, Nikol Pashinyan instructed the NSS to "give a tough response to fake news." "Criminal circles spend millions to manipulate the public opinion in social networks and mass media; and this is a matter of national security," the Premier has explained, emphasizing at the same time that the war on fake news should not infringe on the freedom of speech.

Shushan Doidoyan, Director of the Centre for Freedom of Information, believes that the NSS is trying to inject fear into people. "This can be a dangerous precedent, when sound criticism of the authorities is treated as manipulation," he believes.

A publication of a false news item is not a crime, said Daniel Ionesyan, the programme coordinator of the Union of Informed Citizens. It is necessary to counter false news by raising the level of media literacy, he believes.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on April 6, 2019 at 11:03 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

Author: Tigran Petrosyan; Source: CK correspondent

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